Va. to create statewide network

Virginia is awarding an estimated $120 million to $150 million contract

to WorldCom Inc. (formerly MCI WorldCom) to consolidate five state networks

into one, which will provide some of the most advanced technologies to state

agencies.

Donald Upson, the state's secretary of technology, announced May 11

the state's intention to award the contract. Mike Thomas, director of the

Department of Information Technology, said WorldCom would begin to implement

the network in June, although some of the services will not be available

for six months.

Backbone network speed will increase from T-1 (45 megabits/sec) to OC-12

(622 megabits/sec). The new system will offer Digital Subscriber Line technology

and fast frame relay service. All services will be priced equally statewide.

"People will see increased access to government services through the

Internet and an increase in efficiency in state government with this in

place," Thomas said. "If your infrastructure is not up to speed, your access

to technology, the Internet and internal communication will be slow."

With a faster network, the state will be able to offer more features

including "Click and Connect," which allows citizens to contact a person

at a state agency through the agency's World Wide Web site, and unified

messaging, which merges e-mail and voice mail into one process, allowing

employees to retrieve e-mail through the voice mail system or vice versa.

Thomas said the network would save $40 million during five years by

reducing long-distance voice and data costs. He said the cost of the contract

could go up as use increases, even though the price may go down.

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